Wednesday, March 4, 2020

God Has Your Dreams Secured

I have been asked to participate in a panel of women who will talk to the Young Women at church about their careers and education paths.

At first, I said yes, then I realized I had another committment at the same time, and then I said yes, because I realized that I have a lot to share.  And two of my daughters will be attending the panel, so I wanted to have my voice included for their sakes, if nothing else!

In the days that have passed since they asked me on Saturday, I've had a lot of thoughts come to my mind on this topic.  So I wanted to write them down before I forgot any of them.  

These are those thoughts:

As you may (or may not) know, I worked in TV News as an Editorial Producer before becoming a stay-at-home Mother.  I did a lot more than that, but that's the simple version.  I also didn't go to BYU, like, I guess, so many Latter-day Saints have.  I graduated from Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio) with a double-major in Mass Communication and Political Science and a minor in Broadcast Journalism.

I always knew what I wanted to do.

I wanted to work in Television. I wanted to marry in the temple. I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mother.

How did I come to these life-goals?

My Mother and Grandmother set such wonderful examples for me of Motherhood.  I looked at them and saw women of a noble birthright.  There was no question in my mind that they were performing an exalted calling in life, a calling that they did with their whole hearts.  

My foremothers also really valued education, which they showed me by their example.  My grandmother worked her first job cooking for the widower across the street when she was just 9 years old.  She didn't attend college, because that was fairly rare for a woman at that time, however she was always seeking higher education.  She trained and became a nurse.  She was widowed twice, so an income was imperative.  She spent her life in the service of others and eventually became the first female executive at ALCOA. She also received the honored title of Ohio Mother-of-the-Year in 1995.

My mother graduated with a History degree from BYU.  Because of her example and the way she talked to me about education, I always knew that I would go to college. I always knew that I would graduate.  It just wasn't even a question. And although, we didn't have much money in our family, she showed me all of the steps to qualify for, finance, and finish a four-year degree.  My mother also taught me the importance of being in the home to run things, to teach, to provide peace, comfort, wisdom, to instill security, stability, confidence, and a sense of self-worth and propriety in her children.

My mother often called herself a "muckraker" (the definition of which is a "reform-minded journalist who exposed corrupt leaders and institutions") because she was very involved in the community and in the schools.  Every good thing I remember that came out of school, years later, I can trace back to the efforts and careful stewardship of my mother.  

Such as the time a paddle was being employed in my elementary school to instill discipline.  I got in trouble sometimes, but rumors were spreading about some kids really getting paddled.  My mother went in and asked the principal to please call her if or when he might see fit to paddle one of her children, because she wanted to be in the room if that happened.  The paddle, which had been used as a form of punishment in school for years previous to that conversation, mysteriously and suddenly fell out of use in that school.  Apparently, no principal wanted to paddle a child in front of their parents.  In doing this, my Mom stood up not only for her children, but for the children who didn't have a parent actively watching out for them.

Another thing I noticed about my mother was that she ALWAYS listed "Homemaker" as her occupation on all official forms.

My mother was a powerful influence in my family, my life, and our community.  I wanted to grow up to be strong and powerful just like her.  My mother was a homemaker at all times, a muckraker when necessary, and when needed during a strike at my father's work, my mother was a subsitute teacher in the schools.

So, how did I come to want a career in Television?

I can trace this back to journal writing.  

For as long as I can remember, I have kept a journal. My parents would write for us before we could hold a pen.  Then each Sunday or as often as a few times a month, they'd ask us to write in a spiral-bound notebook that served as our journal.

When I became a preteen, I wrote more often.  And as a teenager, I wrote in my journal every night.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, often spending my own money on notebooks and journals for this purpose. I also loved to write letters.

This is how I became a writer and a skilled communicator.  

(Although the credit for my speaking skills go to my Great-grandmother who sat and listened to a quiet three year old until I started talking more normally and came out of my shell, to my little sister for putting up with listening to me drone on for hours each night before bed in the attic bedroom that we shared, and to my mother who taught me how to give a good talk starting in Primary/Sunday School!)

In middle school, my sister who is about three years ahead of me in school encouraged me to tryout for the morning announcements.  I did.  Then in high school, she encouraged me to try out for the morning announcements again, but unlike our middle school announcements which were over a PA system, the high school announcements were done over the school TV system (thanks to Channel 1!)

This is where I came to love TV production.  By the time I left high school, I just knew I wanted to work in Television.

The lesson here is this: There are people around you who can help point you in the right direction.  Trust them.  Don't be afraid to try things in your younger years.  Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone.  Do your personal progress/children and youth goals.  Things like writing in a journal, reading your scriptures, and organizing service projects can help you discover who you are, what you like, what you're good at, and help you develop a very important skill (effectively communicating with not just people but with the Spirit) that spans basically all career fields.  These things are not wasted efforts.  They just might be the very foundation of your life.

Early on in life, I didn't play organized sports (aside from summer swim team).  Our family didn't have the money to invest in these expensive endeavors.  But, in middle school and high school, where sports were basically free-ish, I tried everything good I could.  I tried out for almost every sport that a girl could play (Thank you, Title IX, which opened up many more sports opportunities for girls!!)  I volunteered, worked a job, helded elected positions in student council, and on and on.

When it came time to apply for college, I knew where I wanted to go, and it wasn't BYU (although my parents met there.)

I wanted to attend Miami University, because it was beautiful, it had a great reputation, and because my sister went there (Thank you, Dawn!)  It was just about as far away from home as I could get and still receive the in-state tuition rate! And ultimately, I felt drawn to it.

Many of my high school classmates applied to and attended Ohio State University.  I am so glad that I didn't go to that huge of a school.  At Miami, I was able to access more opportunities with less competition.  It was one key to my success in starting my career.

Miami had only a small number of Latter-day Saint students attending institute.  But the spirit was so strong there.  I did not meet my husband there.  That was never really my goal for attending college, and it frankly is not to my way of thinking about education at all, but I understand that is a wide-spread way of thinking, especially if you want to marry an LDS person.  I wasn't against marrying while in college, I guess I just wasn't ready.

To this day, I am ever-so grateful to all of the men and women with whom I interacted at my school.  From the RMs (men and women) who taught me how to love the Lord and how to stand on my own two feet with my personal testimony and who watched over me, and to my many non-member friends and roommates who supported me in my choices to live my religion and the morals I was taught at home and in the Young Women's program.  They were so different from me in some ways, but were also my best friends, and I have a great love for them still.  I will always remember one of my friends saying, "I don't ever want to see you drinking...I'll lose my faith in this world."  It was ok for him to drink, but he was going to hold me to my standards at all costs.

Attending a non-church school can be an amazing opportunity to stand out, to serve the Lord, to grow your testimony, and to be a life-long missionary.  The small branch that I attended took me in as their "daughter".  I loved feeling needed and loved.  Under their watchful eye, I was free to "grow up unto the Lord."  The Oxford, Ohio Branch will always be my spiritual home in a sense.

And what about a mission? Serving a mission was never something I even considered.  Why would I?

For one, my patriarchal blessing only mentioned a mission in my later life. (And I still understand that missions are OPTIONAL for women, but a duty for members of the Priesthood.)

For two, the shoes...the that time the dress code was so unappealing to me. Uh-uh.  And I'm not like some kind of fashion-ista, clearly.  This was just so not enticing for me personally (just being honest, here. That was my mindset at the time.)

For three, I had already been a missionary in my personal life.  I always believed that I could be a missionary where ever the Lord put me.  In fact, after an early missionary experience I promised the Lord that I would always share his gospel.  (And I believe that promise was a big reason for my career success.)

For four, I wanted to finish my education and pursue a career.  Stopping my education to serve a mission would have hindered that.  I couldn't see that working for me.

What else?

While I was on a summer break one year, my grandmother clipped a local newspaper article for me that highlighted how students in Ohio could participate in an internship program and GET PAID a grant to work in Washington, DC in politics, lobbying, or communication and STILL RECEIVE COLLEGE CREDITS while doing so.

I could not wait to apply.

I received word that I had been accepted before I even returned to school in the fall.  Apparently, however, there was an application and approval process set up by a guidance counselor at the school.  I was supposed to get her permission or something to apply because only two students were chosen each year to represent Miami.  However, I had unknowingly by-passed her self-imposed process and secured a spot for myself for the following semester.  She wasn't very happy about that.  I was elated.

Lesson here:  Take the chance.  Always apply. Raise your hand. Volunteer. Throw your hat in the ring.  And listen to your grandma who is always clippling magazine and newspaper articles for you.  She knows what's up.

I had secured my entrance in to the program, but I had to secure my own internship.  I applied to two and had two interviews.  One was a political group, the other was a TV News Agency that I had never really heard of.

When I did my phone interview with the news agency, the woman, who would eventually become my boss ended her brief interview with, "please call me if you have any questions about that position."  Luckily, I had a question. And looking back now, I'm sure that was the spirit prompting me.  What was my question?  "What is the dress code for working in the bureau?" It was a silly question, but she said to call if I had a question, so I basically called her RIGHT back and asked it.  She offered me the job during that second phone call.  I later learned that to tell the intership candicates apart, she always ended the interviews with the same invitation: to call with any questions.  The go-getters ask follow-up questions.  If you called back with a question, you got the job.  I got the job.

I would eventually learn many things during my time in this internship, things that would serve me in my career and my life.  But I will always remember the importance of listening, hearing, and asking questions.

I went to Washington DC that next semester.  It was right in the middle of the Impeachment of President Clinton.  DC was abuzz with political excitement.  I have so many stories from this time in my life.

One thing that stands out to me is that Tribune Broadcasting (the news group that hired me) was not a known entity to me.  They were not "big time" household names, however, because they weren't as "big" in the industry as other networks, they used Interns as field producers, giving us special access to cover things.  Because of President Clinton's involvement with an intern, interns were basically banned from the White House.  Because of the scandal they were seen as immature and untrustworthy and a liability.  As an Intern, I was sent on assignment to cover the White House, both inside and outside. I produced live shots, attended briefings, etc. I just acted like a regular field producer. Because of this I was able to learn and do so much more than if I was working at a higher-profile company simply pushing tapes or getting coffee.

My time as an intern solidified everything for me career-wise.

Lesson: Take the job that feels right, not the one that sounds right.

When it was over, I went back to Miami to finish my last year and graduate.  

In one of my senior Mass Comm classes I remember my professor would often bring printouts of job listings and toss them onto the table.  One day he brought one from a Miami Alumnus for a job that WASN'T an on-air TV job.  Most students turned their noses up at this, but I applied.  I knew I'd need money after college as I had loans to pay off.  

This job in Media Relations was also an important first step.  I learned some life-lessons, but it was a stepping stone for me.  It was a time for the Lord to teach me important lessons, lessons about trusting him and lessons about how to hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Lesson: Have a job while you're looking for a job, and don't be too good for a job.

That first job wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  It was probably a great first job for me, however, I wasn't satisfied. I wasn't sure where to go next, so I actually took the LSAT and the GMAT as I looked for something more fulfilling.  I got into a Masters of Education program at Ohio State and I had scores good enough to get into Law School as well.  I considered going to school to become a Communications Lawyer.  However, given that my goal was to be a stay-home mother at some point, accruing much more debt didn't seem logical.  So I didn't go back to school, and I didn't change course on my career goals.

I always kept in touch with my friends and co-workers and even my singles ward friends in DC.  I was always networking. I asked a co-worker to keep me in mind if a job ever opened up at Tribune.  One day it did.

She offered me a job that was freelance, so it didn't have any health benefits.  At this point, I had a good job in medial relations.  I had an important decision to make -- a decision that would really change the course of my life.

I was very worried about quitting my steady job to chase this dream of working in TV news, especially when we knew the job could go away at any moment if things went south with the advertiser/sponsor of the show.

I counseled with my parents.  My Dad who always worked a steady job and never changed, said, "If it were me, I wouldn't go."  The easy thing would have been for me to follow his advice, so that's what I went to bed having decided.  I would stay in Columbus.

Then next morning, however, I woke up and immediately started packing up my apartment.  I had a complete stupor of thought. I couldn't stay a moment longer in that WRONG situation.  The future was waiting for me in DC.  I knew that I had to go.  I might be making the biggest mistake of my life, but I had to make it.

Fast-forward to my life in DC.  It was thrilling to be back in the city that I loved and among some of my old friends, and to feel like my career was really launching now.  However, what we feared might happen DID happen.  My job "went away" as they say.

Soon, I found myself jobless in a very expensive city, but I wouldn't and couldn't give up.

I went on interview after interview.  I went after jobs that I knew I was not qualified for because I didn't have enough years of work experience, but I didn't care.

It was a very rough time.

I had to face people looking at me like "We told you so." (Those people were NOT my parents.  They never lost faith in me.)

I had to question everything.

I had to face the past and figure out if I still believed in the future that I saw in my mind.

Meanwhile, many people I knew were getting or were already married...with kids.  I felt fairly lost and hopeless.

I felt depressed.

I remember the distinct feeling that I could just disappear one day and no one would notice...except maybe my creditors. But even that, I questioned.

Staying connected to Institute and my church friends really helped me during this time.  I remember feeling particularly low and laying in the dark of my apartment.  I felt panicky.  I knew I needed to go where there was hope and light, so I went to the church to join my roommate who I knew was playing basketball there.  I ran into a girl who hardly knew me. She asked how I was.  A casual question that I am sure she didn't expect an actual answer to.  I told her how I was...not good.  She immediately reached into her purse and gave me all of the money out of her wallet.  She told me to pay her back when I could and if I couldn't, I was to "pay it forward".  This was such a life raft for me.  Not that the approximately $43 changed my problems, but it did bring me hope.  

Staying close to the Institute has always brought me strength in more ways than one.

I remember praying to the Lord that night and saying, "Why is this happening.  You know I won't ever leave you!"  He knew it.  I guess I needed to also know it deep down inside.

Then a day came when everything came together.

I went on an interview at a big PR firm.  The job required 10 years of experience, which I did not have.  However, while I was being interviewed, the interviewer said, "Your resume shows that you have a lot of TV production experience.  We just hired someone away from CNN, and I know that they are hiring.  Let me bring her up here for you."

Now that I look back on that, I wonder what prompted her to do such a generous thing.  I can only think that the spirit was prompting her.

The woman who came up from the back was about my age.  She gave me the name of her boss at CNN.  She told me to call her.  I did, and within the week, I had been interviewed and hired there--at what at the time was basically my dream job. 

I remember how excited as amazed I was.  

While I was working that first job after college, I would watch Wolf Blitzer on CNN and secretly whisper to myself in my head, "Some day I'm going to work there."  I had NEVER said those words aloud to anyone.  Not anyone.  But the Lord knew.

He had my dreams secured. 

Within the month, I'd be passing Judy Woodruff in the hall, giving camera cues to Wolf Blitzer, and seating special guests for Larry King Live.

My time at CNN was everything.  It was exhilarating.  It was a dream come true.  It was a culmination of all of the people who had helped me become the person I was.  And it was 100% facilitated by the Lord.

Another dream came true during that time.

My senior year of college, I received my temple endowment in the Columbus Temple.  Living in Columbus, I was able to attend the temple frequently, usually weekly. I remember watching the old lady temple workers and thinking, "I'd love to be a temple worker some day!"  but then I chastized myself for even thinking it.  I figured I'd have to be an old lady to have the time/opportunity.

Well, during the time that I was jobless in DC, I was called to serve as a temple worker in the Washington DC Temple.  I realized not long after that, that the Lord had orchestrated this whole time in my life to help me realize my righteous desires and goals.  He had brought me to my dreams in a way that I could not have imagined, foreseen, or accomplished myself.

So what about marriage?

I had dated....a lot.  I had met some truly wonderful men, and I will always, always be grateful for those men that treated me like the daughter of God that I am.  In the age of the MeToo movement, I realized more poignantly that every moment that I spent with those "good guys" was a protection to me from those other "men".  I am so grateful for that time in my life. I am grateful for the spirit that warned me of dangerous people and situations.  I am grateful for heavenly protection during the dating years.

I am also grateful for another thing: my patriarchal blessing.

I received my blessing when I was a junior in high school.  It told me a lot of things that I wouldn't completely understand until later, but one thing it said was that I was not to be hasty about getting married, but that I was to get to know my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ first.  And that when the time was right, I'd marry in the temple.

Having this assurance from the Lord and this personal map for my life really helped me to go forward with confidence.  Yes, I was a little sad when I watched other women becoming mothers, and I wondered a tiny bit if that dream would be realized for me or not.  But it helped me so much to know that the Lord had a plan for me.  That my plan didn't have to look like anyone elses.  It allowed me to trust the Lord and his timing for my life.

When I met my husband, I was kind of "over" dating.  I was working and having fun.  We were called to work together as co-chairs of the activities committee for a singles ward of 400 people.  The Lord had to put us together but soon after we finally started dating, I knew I could marry this man.  He was good.  He was worth waiting for.

We were engaged after three months, and we were married in the temple a year after our first date.  We traded in our callings as activity committee chairs for 400 singles for "event coordinators" for 6 children of our own.

When we left DC a year later for my husband to pursue an MBA at Penn State I was 6 months pregnant with my first child.  CNN allowed me to freelance for them from home during Hurricane Katrina.  They offered to keep me on as a guest booker from my home even after my child was born.

This was so alluring.  I could work from home and make good money to help support our family in Grad school.  And I could keep my status as an Editorial Producer of Guests for CNN.

However, my goal was to be a Homemaker, and I could easily work a 13-hour day during busy news cycles.  This was not what I wanted for my babies, so I declined the offer and cut professional ties with CNN.

People asked me during that time if this was a difficult decision to make.  It was not.

For one, I have the most amazing memories and stories from my time at CNN.  I saw things, heard things, participated in things that most people will never get to experience.  My job was literally to escort famous people, actors, rock stars, politicians, amazing journalists, kings, queens, etc. through the DC bureau every day.  The Lord used me as a missionary during that time.  I am so grateful for those experiences.  I will always have that.

But being a Mother was also my dream, the biggest dream.  And I was going to choose it with all my heart and with my time.

Fast-forward, I now have six kids.  Another thing that I hear my fellow-mothers say sometimes is that they lament that they are "just a mother" or that they "don't use their college education" now that they are a stay-at-home mother.  This last comment shocks me, really.  I feel like I use my education EVERY DAY of my Mothering career.  I use my intelligence, my understanding of the world, my leadership skills, my communication and reasoning skills, my organization skills.  I could go on and on.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think back and see the faces of the person who taught me whatever skill I am currenty using and THANK them silently in my heart. MY parents, my family members, my teachers, my church leaders, my neighbors, my friends.

All of those previous experiences are still and always will be a part of me.

Another lesson I'd share here is: Figure out what you love and do it, it will serve you and bring you joy all of your life.

When I was a new mom, I did some freelance writing of news articles for small local papers and some state magazines.  It was a way to keep my hand in writing and it was fun.  I stopped doing that when my kids required more time (when I had then three of them, under the age of three!)

Later, I started blogging.  And that was such a fun outlet. I felt drawn to blogging ONLY when I realized I could write, be creative, help teach my children, AND be a missionary to my friends online through blogging.

Then I was approached by Church Magazines to write a bit for them and to submit ideas and be a source on some articles.  This has continued to use my skills in new and interesting ways, while I still perform my full-time mission of being a Mother.

How I decide how to spend my time and energy now:  You all should know that my motto is "You always have time for the things you put put the most important things first."

I am always weighing the options for my time and trying to make sure any project that I take on helps my family and me and doesn't tip the delicate balance of our lives together.  I also make sure I use my skills mainly only when the Lord indicates that it's needful for his purposes.

There are often alluring things out there that seem good to me.  (Like last year when I took on a big role in the PTO, but realized later that it was taking me away from my littles too much so I had to quit!)

Late last fall I received a new calling as Stake Media Relations Specialist.  I wondered how I would do this as I have such a busy time with raising my six kids (Those six kids that I once wondered if I'd ever have!)  The Lord showed me that he already had a plan and connections in place and made it easy for me to do his work in this area without sacrificing too much at home.

Now I am serving as the Stake Director of Communication.  It's amazing after all of this time to have the Lord come knocking and ask me to employ my skills in his service again, in a different way than I do daily as a Mother.  And I am grateful to do it, because I know that it's through his grace that I was able to have all of these great experiences and to see my education, career, and family goals realized.

A friend of mine said earlier this week: GOD HAS YOUR DREAMS SECURED.

This rings so true for me in my life.  Many times, we don't see how these dreams will be realized, but if we trust in him, cultivate righteous desires, and pledge to do his work, HE WILL USE US.

I'm leaving a few things out here (and lots of other work experiences), and I'm not sure how I'll communicate this all to the Young Women tonight, but I thought I'd type this out for my girls to some day read when they reach this point in their own lives.

The Lord knows you and has a work for you to do.  Figure out what your dreams are and believe in them. Act in Faith.

This reminds me a quote from Elder Holland: (source)

"Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—that is the first principle of the gospel. We must go forward. God expects you to have enough faith, determination, and trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it, and delight in your opportunities.
God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe."

Dream your dreams, girls.  And trust that the Lord has your dreams secured.


  1. I loved reading this so much! It resonated with me personally as I’ve had similar experiences with my education, the Lord, and family. Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable - good luck tonight!

  2. Oh Jocelyn, I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing how the Lord has worked in your life. Helps me reflect on my own life and the wonders of the Lord.

  3. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It truly is a gift to read your written word. It was exactly what I needed to read today!

  5. wow, impressive and so important for young women to realize!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story. I find it hard not to compartmentalize my life into "family life", "education life" and "professional life" which is difficult since there aren't necessarily hard and fast lines. About a year ago I was talking to a friend about this with regards to preparing our daughters for their future. The day after, I saw this article in the New Era. Thank you for being a great example of following the Spirit and doing what the Lord wants you too.